The Westland Sea King Mk48 “Resolute Guardian” carries a rich history that spans several decades of service and lifesaving missions. Originally ordered by the Belgian Air Force in April 1975, five Sea King Mk48 helicopters were acquired to replace the Sikorsky S58 in the vital Search and Rescue (SAR) role. After their training at RNAS Culdrose, all five aircraft were delivered to Koksijde Airbase on November 8, 1976, marking the beginning of their illustrious service.
From the moment the Sea Kings were declared operational, their contribution to SAR missions was unmatched. Time and again, these helicopters braved treacherous weather conditions and perilous situations to rescue those in distress along the Belgian coast and beyond. The resolute spirit of the Sea King crews, combined with the aircraft’s reliability and capabilities, resulted in a series of remarkable accomplishments in saving lives.
Throughout their operational tenure, the Westland Sea King Mk48 helicopters played an instrumental role in saving 1757 individuals through 3309 successful SAR interventions. These selfless acts of heroism cemented the Sea King’s place as an iconic presence in the SAR community, earning it the affectionate nickname “Resolute Guardian.”
As the years passed, the Belgian Air Force eventually retired the Sea Kings in March 2019, bringing an end to their active military service. However, the legacy of these helicopters and the SAR community they represent was far from over.
The Sea King served the Belgian Air Force from 1976 until March 2019, where it played a crucial role in conducting Search and Rescue operations. Over the years, this heroic aircraft successfully performed 3309 SAR interventions, saving 1757 lives, and accumulating nearly 60,000 flying hours.
Type & Model
Westland Sea King Mk. 48
Amid the Sea Kings’ retirement, Historic Helicopters stepped in to safeguard these aviation legends from a fate of being sold for parts or fading into obscurity. This passionate team of aviation enthusiasts and historians made it their mission to preserve the Westland Sea King Mk48 RS 04 and its companion, RS02, as a testament to the helicopter’s legacy and the heroic SAR missions it undertook.
Historic Helicopters’ dedication to preserving historic aircraft has already yielded impressive results, as they previously restored and maintained other helicopters, including the Whirlwind Mk10, Navy Wessex Mk5, and three other Sea Kings. Their commitment to preserving these exceptional aircraft goes beyond mere restoration; they aim to create an experience for people to connect with the stories behind these flying heroes.
Avi8Art’s photography experience captured the Westland Sea King Mk48 in its best light during the serendipitous moment of a freezing sunset at Koksijde Airbase. Nature itself became a mirror, reflecting the resolute spirit and captivating camouflage of this extraordinary aircraft, immortalizing it in a puddle of water.
For aviation enthusiasts and art lovers alike, “Resolute Guardian” prints are available in various formats and sizes, allowing viewers to bring home a piece of history and aviation art.
“Resolute Guardian” has not only been immortalized by Avi8Art but is also part of the collection preserved by Historic Helicopters. The dedication of the team in saving and preserving this iconic helicopter, along with its significant SAR missions, is an achievement in itself and a tribute to the Sea King and SAR community.